“Pimp My Ride” Xzibit orchestrate a massive and ridiculous upgrade

February 27, 2015 12:26 pm
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“Pimp My Ride” premiered on MTV in 2004 with a
straightforward premise that was beautiful in its simplicity: Take a kid
with a beat up car and have the rapper Xzibit orchestrate a massive and
ridiculous upgrade. The theme song explained it all in just a few
lines: “So you wanna be a player, but your wheels ain’t fly / You gotta
hit us up, to get a pimp’t out ride.”But although the show operated
within such a minimal framework, things were a bit more complicated
behind the scenes. 

From cars that would break down in a matter of weeks
to fat-shaming a contestant to one MTV employee apparently trying to
convince another car owner to break up with his girlfriend, there was a
lot more to the creation of this show than Xzibit simply saying, “Yo
dawg.”

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The Huffington Post spoke with three of the kids who got their cars
pimped: Jake Glazier from Season 4 and Seth Martino and Justin Dearinger
from Season 6. All three had previously done brief AMAs on Reddit about
their time on the show. (It should be noted that each appeared on “Pimp
My Ride” near the later half of its run.) And for a perspective from
the other side of the camera, co-executive producer Larry Hochberg
responded to a few of the claims made by contestants.
Although all of the people spoken to about “Pimp My Ride” ultimately
had mostly positive experiences, the reality of what it took to get
pimped ended up being even more strange than expected.
“I was very excited and naïve, so they could have told me unicorns
were making me breakfast and I wouldn’t have questioned it,” Martino
said. Viewers of this aughts-spectacle ended up having the same
experience …
Sometimes additions to the cars were just for the show and would be taken out of the vehicle immediately after filming.

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In Justin Dearinger’s Reddit AMA,
he claimed that “they actually take out a lot of the stuff that they
showed on TV,” such as in his case, a “pop-up” champagne contraption and
a “drive-in theater.” Further explaining to HuffPost, Dearinger said
that they removed the champagne part because the show didn’t want to
condone drinking and driving. The theater was removed for not being
street safe.
According to Larry Hochberg, however, the removals were done with a
specific purpose in mind. “Sometimes we did things for safety reasons
that the kids on show interpreted as us ‘taking away’ some items,” he
said. He gave an example where 24-inch spinner rims on a 1977 Cutlass
would look amazing for television, but “out of abundance of caution”
they’d end up switching the spinners to “beautiful 20s for daily
driving.”
That said, it seems as if things were occasionally put into cars with
no intention of them ever working in real life. For example, a robotic
arm installed into Seth Martino’s car was, as he put it, actually solely
“controlled by commands that were entered into a laptop by the spiky
haired guy off screen.” In reality, it “was just a robotic arm with a
bunch of wires hanging out of it.”
And often additions — such as the famous backseat TV screens — simply wouldn’t work.

Seth Martino’s car seemed to be particularly low quality. “There were
plenty of things wrong with it,” he told HuffPost, including television
screens never working again after filming. As Martino recalled, some
things that didn’t work on the car included the LED lights that were put
in the seats. “They would get really hot if left on so I
couldn’t drive with them on,” Martino said. “They took the gull-wing
doors off because the pistons used to lift them kept them from putting
seat belts in the back, which was highly dangerous.” A cotton candy
machine they installed was fit into the trunk without leaving enough
room for the dome top to keep the cotton candy strands “from flying all
over the place.”
Apparently, Mad Mike would try and help out when cars would have
problems. MTV also had flatbed tow truck driver on call according to
Larry Hochberg. “The people who had cars that appeared on the show would
call me, and I would leave my desk, run to meet up with the flatbed tow
truck and go help them,” he said. Hochberg also said the cars would
occasionally have wiring issues, which he would coordinate in getting
back to the West Coast Customs or eventually the GAS shop. At least it
seems for the serious issues, MTV attempted to reconcile problems. “I
made sure that things were fixed on cars that needed fixing,” Hochberg
said. But speaking of the root of those more serious issues …
Although the cars were visually pimped, the insides were seemingly given far less attention.

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From the onset here, it should be noted that Larry Hochberg says that
“it’s not accurate to say that we didn’t work on the mechanics of the
cars” and that the contestants on the show had a misconception of what
had happened with their vehicles. As Hochberg explained to HuffPost,
“Some of the cars were so old and rusted that they would have mechanical
issues no matter how much work you put into them [and] the production
team and the car shops worked their butts off to get parts for these
cars.” In one instance, MTV even sent someone all the way to a desert
junkyard in Arizona just for a replacement hood on a car. But the show
wasn’t about saving cars from breaking down; it was about pimping cars.
Jake Glazier, who felt “there were a lot of problems” with the
mechanics, sold his car after just about a month. He was then told by
the new owner that it had already blown out. Glazier told one example of
what he felt was shoddy work: the car needed a muffler, and so a fake
exhaust pipe was installed to make it seem as if that’s what the car was
supposed to sound like, “even though it was just lack of a muffler.”
“There wasn’t much done under the hood in regards to the actual
mechanics of the vehicle,” according to Seth Martino. “For the most
part, it needed a lot of work done to make it a functioning regular
driver, which they did not do.” Martino said he had a hard time even
driving the car home. “They added a lot of extra weight but didn’t
adjust the suspension to compensate so I felt like I was in a boat, and
every time I hit a bump the car would bottom out and the tires would
scrape inside the wheel well.” According to Martino, the car would only
run for about a month. Then he had to save up his own money to replace
the engine.
This happened many years after the show — and after extensive outside work — but one car exploded into flames.
Five years after the show, with extensive and expensive outside work
done by Dearinger himself, his pimped car burst into flames. Dearinger
was driving home with his girlfriend when smoke started flooding the
car. Then the two jumped out on the side of the road and within just
moments the car was destroyed. You can watch the aftermath in the video
above.
Although probably expected, those reveal shots of excitement were staged.

At the beginning of segments, Xzibit would be shown ringing the
doorbell to a contestant’s house to surprise them. But these houses were
often times not the contestants’ homes; instead, each dwelling had been
rented by MTV. Contestants were told to wait in the house and that at
the door would either be someone holding something like a $100 Pep Boys
gift certificate or it would be “ya boy Xzibit.” So the surprise of
Xzibit at the door was real, but in maybe a weirder way than you
expected.
Less real was the famous freakouts of contestants jumping up and down
when their pimped out car was revealed. All contestants spoken to ended
up having to do multiple takes of their reaction, with Justin Dearinger
explaining, “I guess I didn’t show enough enthusiasm.” The director
specifically told him to “be more energetic and jump around and scream.”
Jake Glazier had a bit of a different experience, remembering they
had to coax him to go “ape shit” as his natural reaction to being
genuinely excited is a more silent shock. His first real reaction to the
car was just a quiet amazement where he said, “This is good.” They
immediately yelled “re-do!” And then things got a bit weirder.
“I remember this very clearly, Big Dane, very big dude, he like puts
his arm around my shoulder, kind of walks me around the shop for like 10
minutes and he’s like, ‘Listen, we put a lot of work into this … we
expect you to be a little more fucking enthusiastic,’” Glazier recalled.
From there, Glazier went full over the top and his reaction (pictured
above) even became a bit of a meme.
The show made it seem as if the
cars were in the garage for a few days, but it was actually about half a
year — causing daily problems.

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From watching the show, you might have thought that the vehicles were
in the shop for about a weekend or even a week or two and then were
given back to their owners. Not the case at all. At least for the
contestants spoken to by HuffPost, the cars would actually be in the
garage for about six to seven months, which obviously caused some
problems.
Seth Martino had a particularly frustrating time where he had to go
through a “really small, shady company off the freeway by LAX because
they were the only ones willing to rent to me because of my age.”
According to Martino, at first MTV only paid for a couple months and
then he had to pay out of pocket. He held on to the receipts and then
about two years after the show aired MTV reached out and finally
reimbursed him. “It sucked having that rental car because they wouldn’t
take payments over the phone so once a month I had to drive all the way
from West Covina to LAX just for them to swipe my card,” Martino
explained.
At least in these instances, the backstories and interests of the contestants were kind of made up.

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For Jake Glazier, MTV “pretty much just went with what I told them,”
but with exaggerations. Glazier had said that his grandmother smoked in
the car. For the show, MTV threw an “extra few dozen cigarette butts in
the car to make her just look like a total disgusting person.”
MTV apparently didn’t really listen to Justin Dearinger when they
asked about his favorite colors. He said he “hated red” and then the
interior of his car ended up being almost entirely that color.
The damage of the cars in the pre-pimped stage was also exaggerated
by the show. Dearinger remembered that they added aircraft remover to
help with the paint removal and made the bumper “look like it was
falling off.”
But besides small exaggerations of likes and dislikes, MTV seems to
have kind of messed with the contestants lives for the sake of the show…
MTV dumped bags of candy in one
contestant’s pre-pimped car and told him to act as if he always had it
there in case he got hungry. He felt as if they were going out of their
way to make fun of his size.

In Seth Martino’s Reddit AMA,
the contestant said, “I know im [sic] fat, but they went the extra mile
to make me look extra fat by telling the world that I kept candy all
over my seat and floor just in case I got hungry. Then gave me a cotton
candy machine in my trunk.” Further explaining the situation, Martino
said, “I sat there and watched them dump out two bags of generic candy.”
HuffPost asked Martino about the instance and he stressed again, “I
did not have any candy all over my car. That was completely fabricated
for the story.”
Why didn’t he speak up and say something about how MTV was treating
him? “At the time, I didn’t question anything because it was an exciting
experience and I just kind of went with the flow,” Martino said. He
further felt as if this was all just a reason to install a cotton candy
machine. “I know it is kind of mean, but I think they just wanted to put
a cotton candy machine in a car and used the fat guy as the opportunity
to do it.”
A suggestion to another
contestant: dump his girlfriend for the half-hour show because the
premise was becoming a “playa” through the pimped ride.

Jake Glazier remembered who he thought was one of the producers
mentioning that breaking up with his girlfriend would be good for the
show. As Glazier explained to HuffPost, the apparent producer said
something about how it would play better into the storyline of him
having a “shitty car” and needing the pimping to no longer be lonely.
The MTV employee apparently suggested to “basically either get rid of her or have her not be a part of the program.”
For what it’s worth, Larry Hochberg said that he was not aware of
either this instance of the fat-shaming story. “Why would we want a kid
to break up with his girlfriend?” he asked. “How would that have helped
the show?”
Despite everything though, all
of the contestants still enjoyed their time on the show and their pimped
out cars — even if they caused much more attention from the cops.

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“I felt like a celebrity when people recognized me/the car,” said
Seth Martino, who enjoyed driving the car once he “put the $1700 of
work” into fixing the engine. He particularly liked the sound system.
Jake Glazier only had the car for about a month, as he sold it fairly
quickly for about $18,000. He had originally bought the car for $500.
But Glazier also regretted selling the car as the buyer — MTX, the audio
company whose product was in the car — really just wanted their sound
system back so it didn’t fall into the hands of their competitors. He
had a really good time taking his little brothers and sisters to school
in the car because his siblings and their friends were so excited.
After the show, Justin Dearinger actually joined a car club and put
about $20,000 more of his own money into the car (possibly causing the
aforementioned fiery end). The car would attract a lot of attention from
cops however, with Dearinger saying he was “getting pulled over on a
daily basis.” Every time, Dearinger would have to explain the show “Pimp
My Ride” to the cops and most of the time they “were really cool about
it.”
They would all happily go on the show again and had “no real complaints.”

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“Honestly, I missed it for many years,” Glazier said of the show, while adding he had no real complaints.
Dearinger, too, enjoyed himself and said he’d be happy to do it all
again. “Before then I was just a kid — I was shy, I was really shy,” he
said. “And then it’s sad to say, but being on the show gave me some
confidence. And it made me the person I am today. I’m the most outgoing
person you ever met.” Dearinger said the pimping truly brought more
attention to him from the opposite sex. “A lot of girls noticed me
more.”
Of the three, it was Martino who had more mixed feelings about the
experience. “The whole situation was definitely not what I hoped for,
and there were times I wanted to give it all back because of how
frustrating it was, but now I look back and laugh,” Martino said. “I
have this really cool story that only a handful of people can really say
they experienced. That makes it all worth it.”
As for Hochberg, he “loved working on the show.” Hochberg further
explained his memories saying, “There were so many great kids on the
show, and it was fun to give the cars to all of them.” Hochberg said one
of his favorites was pimping an Ice Cream Truck, a creation that ended
up being parodied by “The Simpsons.”
BONUS: But what was hanging out with Xzibit actually like?

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“Xzibit is the greatest,” said Hochberg who interacted more closely
with the rapper than the contestants. “He’s a talented rapper, and he is
a natural host. He’s cool, funny and always thinking on his feet. I
really enjoyed working with him.”
The contestants didn’t get to talk with Xzibit too much, but each
felt he was chill, easygoing and fun to be around. Martino said Xzibit
would say things like “time to smoke” and that he “never got the feeling
he was talking about cigarettes” although he couldn’t confirm
otherwise.
“He did smell of [weed]. A lot of it,” Dearinger said. “Someone did
at least, I don’t know who did, but I’m pretty sure it was … you know.”
But Jake Glazier had hands down the best interaction with Xzibit …
Yo dawg, this might be the most insane story inside a story you’ll ever hear…

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“I don’t remember why he brought it up, but we were just kind of
talking about what we were doing that weekend and he said he’s going to
go down to hell to kill the devil so he can make some Satan skin boots.”
Now that sounds like an amazing idea for a spinoff.

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